The annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival, organized yearly by The Ark, recently announced the lineup for the two-day event at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and 28.
Highlighting a selection of the world’s finest traditional and contemporary performers, each night of the Festival includes a blend of well-known and up-and-coming artists (and comedian Heywood Banks as emcee both nights), providing you with an opportunity to hear artists you know and love while discovering great new talent. Here’s a taste, according to The Ark’s website, of what you can expect:
The 35th Ann Arbor Folk Festival Lineup
Friday, Jan. 27:
As co-leader of the band Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams emerged into the 1990s alt-country scene. Prolific, with ideas coming as fast as he could write and record them, Ryan released an album a year (or even more) over much of the past decade. His latest release, “Ashes & Fire,” marks his return to recording following the disbanding of backing band the Cardinals in 2009 and a quiet period in which he married singer and actress Mandy Moore. Of “Ashes & Fire” Ryan says: “The record is obsessed with time. I believe that there is a kinder view of the self. I’m passing through my own life as a ghost, and looking at these pieces and places in my life. I’m looking at California, and the idea of being lost and found at the same time.”
For more than a decade, the Denver band DeVotchKa has welded its influences – from Eastern European wedding bands to Mexican norteno ballads – into an authentic and totally original blend of popular music. The members of DeVotchKa spent their early career fostering musical connections with fellow explorers like Calexico and gypsy punks Gogol Bordello. DeVotchKa’s major break came when Nic Harcourt of KCRW introduced his listeners to a then-unknown rock band on his daily radio show, “Morning Becomes Eclectic.”
With admirers like Jackson Browne and Tom Petty keyboardist Benmont Tench in their corner, this self-described “American rock ‘n’ roll band” has drawn instant acclaim for its rootsy revitalization of classic L.A. rock. Dawes is a classic rock ‘n’ roll ensemble: four talented friends making music together, fueled by a shared belief in the power of their songs. They blend singer/songwriter reflection with folk, country, and album-rock-inspired arrangements filled with ringing guitars, soaring harmonies and heartfelt melodies.
Also playing: Carbon Leaf, Elephant Revival, Sunny War and David Wax Museum
Saturday, Jan. 28:
In Nashville they call her the conscience of country music, but there’s no label large enough to encompass Emmylou Harris. Over a career that’s lasted more than 40 years, Emmylou has influenced musical movements from country-rock to the bluegrass revival to Americana, which she helped make into an ongoing genre with her remarkable 1995 album “Wrecking Ball.” In the 1970s and 1980s, Emmylou helped reenergize traditional country music with her silvery voice. Emmylou Harris has long been a friend to The Ark – one of the great performers in the 35-year history of the Festival who has been instrumental in supporting them with her stunning performances.
With 17 gold albums and 27 top-10 pop and country singles, he has brought us songs – “Gentle on My Mind,” “Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman” – that are familiar evergreens in this country and around the world. But what’s sometimes forgotten is that Glen’s songs remain fresh because they were innovative in the first place. Glen released the first of his roughly 70 albums, “Big Bluegrass Special,” in 1962, and he emerged as a top-notch instrumentalist who played guitar on the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.” His latest album, “Ghost on the Canvas,” and his current tour, featuring members of his family in his band, will be his last.
“Nanci Griffith,” writes Jon Cummings of Popdose, “is arguably the most important folk-music artist of her generation.” You can make a good argument for that: no other songwriter has fused introspective folk songwriting with popular roots so thoroughly. On Nanci’s own 18 albums she draws on personal confessions, a photographer’s eye for Texas landscapes, and social and political themes, forging a kind of homespun but often complex Texas poetry that nobody else has quite matched. She also has a portfolio of songs that became major country hits for other artists. This is Nanci Griffith’s fifth appearance at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival; her first was in 1985, and new facets of this diamond have appeared every time since then.
Also: Joe Henry, Sarah Jarosz, Caravan of Thieves and Seth Glier